It is an ancient tradition in the church that 30 days after the people gather to celebrate another Requiem Mass known as the “Month’s Mind.”
Last night we gathered in St. Mary’s pro-Cathedral to celebrate the Month’s Mind Mass for Bishop Barry Jones.
The homily was Fr. Kevin Clark who is well known for his profound preaching. Last night, as a good friend of Bishop Barry, with his characteristic gentleness Kevin reflected on the life and legacy of Bishop Barry in a homily that moved me greatly.
Here is his homily.
The deepest and most beautiful legacy that our loved ones leave us is that influence they have had on our have on our lives so that we have absorbed something of them into ourselves. So the legacy is something very real and very personal, and perhaps it’s true that not everyone receives the same legacy from the same person. Perhaps it depends mostly on our own needs in comparison to a richness in the life of the one who has died.
I say all these things, and in the back of your minds and mine is Bishop Barry. And each of us can nod to ourselves, and say yes, I know what you are saying, because his legacy was rich and yet altering a little bit according to the needs of each one of us here.
When I look at his life or reflect about him I never had to think after he died what to say about him, because all the way through his life, especially as a bishop, the thing that struck me about him was his humility. And that virtue of humility is something strange and very wonderful, and I don’t want to go on at any length now talking about Bishop Barry because you know him.
I just want to reflect before we resume Mass on that wonderful gift that he had of humility. I always found it something of a puzzling sort of a virtue because it seemed to me a virtue in which we told lies about ourselves, “I am not very good, I’m pretty awful”… all of which is untrue.
Someone once at a retreat that I attended made a wonderful statement, he said humility and truthfulness are much the same thing. You can’t have humility without great truthfulness because humility is about the truth. He said to be humble is to wish to be known as we really are. And I think that’s wonderful and I have seen that in this man whom we honour this night.
He was who he was, and he didn’t change and there was never any difference, he was a young priest one day, a middle aged priest another day, he was a coadjutor bishop, he was the bishop of the diocese and he was still Bishop Barry. And he assumed the offices and various tasks that were given to him with as much as a nod a smile and an acceptance. There was none of the false humility that says O somebody else could do this much better than I could, there must be better people, We could all say that. It happens though that the one chosen is the one chosen. And the one chosen has one thing to do and that is to bow their head and to say, “very well.”
I love in that first chapter of Luke where the angel appeared to Our Lady… It is so hard for us to realise how much the people of Israel looked to the future, to the coming of the Messiah, this was their culmination which meant that some day some woman would give birth to the Messiah. Nobody would have greater role in the history of the world. And this young girl, young woman from Nazareth is told that she is the one. And she says that I can’t do that, I’m not married, but the angel said that this is God’s business so she says, “yes, alright.”
I know the translations don’t say “yes alright”, but that is what she said – I am a servant of the Lord so yes, alright. That’s humility. That is no protest. There is no falseness at saying that someone else could do it better than me. She knew that she was the chosen one and therefore she said “yes, alright”.
And do you know one day, Fr Barry Jones got that same message about being a bishop. And his answer was the exactly the same, nothing changed, just “yes, alright.”
So part of the legacy that we have been given is that memory and that lesson not to be afraid, not to ever use that false excuse as it were, someone else could do it better. If God says, I put my finger on you, then there is nobody who could do it better, and Bishop Barry showed us that.